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When The Other Shoe Doesn’t Drop

Today was a holiday in the United States. Labor Day traditionally marks the end of Summer. It’s a day for BBQs, picnics, family gatherings and Honey-Do lists.

We took our kids to the park. We enjoyed some family meals. And I worked through my Honey-Do list. In fact, I wrapped up several lingering projects.

  • Changed the oil on my 1995 Toyota Corolla
  • Changed the oil on my 2004 Yukon
  • Polished the headlights on the Corolla
  • Fixed my sprinkler systems
  • Fixed a leaning mailbox
  • Replaced a bedroom screen
  • Weeded the garden
  • Installed weatherstripping on my garage door
  • Replaced an exterior garage light

There’s one thing I didn’t do today. I didn’t take a work call. I didn’t spend hours on my computer working on an outage.

But, I might have. I could have. In fact, my phone rang several times today. Often I was elbow deep in engine oil. As I lay underneath my car and listened to my phone ring through, I waited for the distinct omminous tone indicating the caller had left a voicemail.

When work calls, they always leave voicemail.

Most of my callers today didn’t leave voicemail. The ones that did told me that my screen was repaired, or that my son was ready to be picked up from football practice.

As I worked through my projects list, I knew in the back of my mind that at any moment it could be interrupted. Since we take calls 24×7, at any moment I could be presented with an outage request that would require me to drop everything and hunker down in my office to work through a issue affecting people 2000 miles away.

It didn’t happen. But, it might have. Just like every day it might. Just like Saturday morning from 8:00am to 2:00pm I was on a work call.

But, not today. Today, ironically, Labor Day, I didn’t get a random work call. And it was amazingly productive. It’s amazing how much work I can get done if work doesn’t interrupt.

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren.

Follow him on
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or email him at rbliss at msn dot com

(c) 2019 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved

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Calm Before The Storm

My hotel has a beautiful view of the beach. Although I was there for the better part of two weeks, I really didn’t have time to even go and look at the view.

The hotel is on Hutchinson Island. Technically it’s in Jensen Beach, Florida. I was working in Port St Lucie, Florida. It’s the Spring Training home of the New York Mets. That’s not why I was there. It’s just an interesting baseball reference.

Just North of Port St Lucie and Jensen Beach is the town of Fort Pierce, Florida. You might have heard of Fort Pierce. It’s the latest projected location for Hurricane Dorian to make landfall.

Atlantic coast looking East from Jensen Beach, FL

Hurricane Dorian was recently upgraded to a Category 4 storm with 130 MPH sustained winds. They are saying it might be the most dangerous storm to hit Florida in 30 years.

Hurricane Andrew hit the same area back in 1992. It killed 65 people and cost billions in damage.

I’m in charge of bringing up a call center in Florida. As you might imagine, a hurricane can play havoc with a construction schedule.

At this point we are simply on a wait-and-see schedule. Will our schedule be impacted? I have no idea. Honestly, I hope not. If we are delayed a day or a week, we’ll adjust. What’s most important is that people stay safe.

The hotel I was at is in the mandatory evacuation zone. If the hurricane does make landfall at Fort Pierce and comes ashore with winds of more than 130 MPH, that hotel will be impacted. With the storm surge, it may even be flooded. The winds might rip off the roof or break the windows.

The streets I drove down, the restaurants I ate at, they will be buffetted by some of the most vicious forces nature can muster. I felt almost guilty in leaving, even though my plane was scheduled long in advance.

The airport was pretty crazy. Lines of wheelchair bound seniors were waiting to board planes.

Finding gas to fill my rental car was challenging. Eventually, I paid $3.09/gallon for Supreme since that was the only thing left.

Enjoy your labor day weekend, but pray for Florida. I know I will be.

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren.

Follow him on
Twitter (@rodneymbliss)
Facebook (www.facebook.com/rbliss)
LinkedIn (www.LinkedIn.com/in/rbliss)
or email him at rbliss at msn dot com

(c) 2019 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved

Fleeing Hurricane Dorian. . .In Advance

We are opening a new call center. That’s why I’ve been in Florida for the past two weeks. . .wait, it was three weeks. (They all start to run together.) My job is IT. I have to make sure the computers are set up, the network is setup, the security cameras are setup, the anti-passback systems are setup.

There are a million things that can go wrong. My job is to come up with a million and one solutions.

It’s a job I really love. We have call centers around the United States. This is our newest. It won’t open for a couple of months. But, even though I’m here working on the new site, I also have to maintain and deal with issues at other sites. Today, I was on a conference call with all my other sites.

So, Rodney, how’s Florida?

Where exactly is our Florida center?

You know the hurricane, Dorian, that’s headed for Florida?

Yeah.

Well, do you see the spot it’s projected to make landfall?

Sure.

I’m right there.

Hurricane Dorian is headed straight for my location. I’m reminded of a famous line from the classic WWII movie, “The Longest Day” about the invasion of France on D-day. The German commander calls headquarters,

Maj. Werner Pluskat : [on the phone again] You know those five thousand ships you say the Allies haven’t got? Well, they’ve got them!

Lt. Col. Ocker : And just where, my dear Pluskat, are those ships going?

Maj. Werner Pluskat : Straight for me!

My travel plans were made over a month ago. I had planned to spend all week here. I arrived on Sunday because our training started on Monday morning at 7:00am. It went well, better for me being here. I planned to stay through Friday in case anything came up that needed attention.

My return flight is scheduled for Friday around noon. It’s about an hour to the airport. It’s also the evacuation route. People have told me to expect it to take several hours.

I’ve never been in a hurricane zone. My hotel is on the beach. Literally, you can walk out of the lobby and onto the sand. (Yeah, I’m not sure how it’s in my approved corporate price range either.) The entire island I’m on is an evacuation zone. If I stayed, I’d have to move.

I filled up my rental car today to avoid having to do it tomorrow. I waited in line.

My coworker left work around 4:00pm.

I have to go hurricane shopping. Have a safe flight back.

If I don’t have someone to eat with, I typically just go to WalMart and grab a salad and some fruit.

The lines weren’t crazy, but the empty shelves were.

I’ve met two different types of Floridians. The first group is those who’ve been here for years.

Well, it’s only supposed to be a Class 3. I’ll throw the shutters up, but we’re generally fine. My house doesn’t flood. I don’t even typically lose power.

The second type? They are going to be on the evacuation route with me tomorrow. It’s odd. I feel like I’m running away. And in some ways, I guess I am. But, I scheduled this flight long before Dorian was a thought in the mind of the National Hurricane Center.

My flight is confirmed and the hurricane isn’t scheduled to arrive until Monday or so. So, I shouldn’t have any trouble getting out.

I’ll be praying for my friends and coworkers in Florida. The storm may be a Category 4 by the time it arrives. And while some of them are pretty nonchalant, they are all in my thoughts.

As is everyone in the hurricanes path.

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren.

Follow him on
Twitter (@rodneymbliss)
Facebook (www.facebook.com/rbliss)
LinkedIn (www.LinkedIn.com/in/rbliss)
or email him at rbliss at msn dot com

(c) 2019 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved

When Coworkers Become Friends

I work with Mark. We are coworkers. But, we are also friends. That’s not always the case. I’m actually pretty reserved at work. I once worked for a small startup for over a month before my boss realized I have 13 children. And even then, it was because I decided to tell him.

I consider myself a good coworker. I’m a big believer in “When one of us wins, we all win.” I am good at sharing, or even giving away credit. But, most times, there’s a wall that comes up. Not because I’m trying to hide anything, but because work and the rest of my life don’t need to overlap anymore than they already do.

So, my friendship with Mark was a surprise. He’s good at what he does. Very good. In fact, the more I get to know him, the more convinced I am that he’s way better at his job than just about anyone I’ve ever known.

The thing is, he’s also very humble. If he happens to read this, he will insist that I’m overstating his ability. Yeah, he likes to give away credit too. It helps build teams. . .and trust.

We don’t have a lot in common other than work. Mark lives in Florida. I live in Utah. I’m married and have a huge family. He’s single. He’s gay. I’m straight.

It’s probably good we don’t live closer. Dinner’s take four hours. We talk and eat appetizers. We eat entrees and we talk. And then we linger over drinks, his a craft beer, mine a soft drink. (One more difference.) Tonight, we ate a fun little outdoor bar overlooking an inland waterway. Eventually, the bar emptied and still we lingered over our glasses. Finally, they announced the alarms were going to be turning on in 15 minutes, and while we were welcome to stay, we were going to possibly be getting a visit from the boys in blue when the alarms triggered.

Having a friend at work is important. Not necessarily for the individual, but for the company. Studies have shown that employees that have a friend at work are more engaged and less likely to leave.

It’s strange because it doesn’t even matter that the friend lives 2500 miles away. It doesn’t matter that the friend shares very little in common.

It just matters that you have a friend.

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren.

Follow him on
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or email him at rbliss at msn dot com

(c) 2019 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved

Was It A Bad Game Or A Good One? . . .Yes

The field was the same. . .the impossible verdant green that you can only dream about your lawn looking like.

The building was new to me, but still the same. A retractable roof. Seating for 37,442. There were nine men in uniforms. A bat and a ball.

But, it was also different. One team I’d never seen in person. The location was Miami. And the biggest difference? There were 6,169 of them. The stadium was 80% empty. That’s what happens when a terrible team (Marlins are 47 and 84 and in last place, 23 games behind their division leader) hosts a bad team (Cincinnati is 62 and 69 and eight games back) on a Tuesday night during the dog days of August.

You might think that meant it was a bad game. Not true. Tonight’s game was a competitive the entire game. All the way up until the last out. The Reds were leading 8-5 going into the bottom of the ninth. The Marlins got tagged for two quick outs and then started a rally. Two men walked and that brought the tying run to the plate.

Looking around the stadium, I think all 6,169 fans were still in attendance. Sadly for the home team, their first baseman, a guy named Walker, hit a liner to the third baseman and was thrown out by a step at first.

Was it a bad game? Was it a good game? Yes. Baseball is kind of like fishing. The very act of participating is what makes it enjoyable. The outcome is interesting, but not crucial to the enjoyment.

While I went to see the Reds take on the Marlins, I’m not really a fan of either team. They play in the National League. The NL is fun because the pitchers are also batsmen. It makes for a much more strategic game than the American League and its designated hitters. My favorite team is the Seattle Mariners. They play in the American League.

I’m used to losing teams. The Mariners have made a habit of it. This year they are 56-77 and 30 games out of first place. It’s a rebuilding year. They’ve been in rebuilding mode for most of their history. Mariners remain the only MLB team to never get to play in the World Series. Seattle isn’t cool about it like Chicago was, or depressed like Boston was. But, both of those teams have broken their World Series curses. Seattle is still waiting.

If I watched baseball to watch my favorite team win I’d not get to see much baseball. But, I have a love of the game. The smell of the ballparks, the taste of the hotdogs, the sound of the ball hitting the catcher’s mitt at 97 MPH, or the crack of the ball off the bat. That distinctive crack that instantly tells you it’s not going to find anyone’s glove.

Marlin’s Park is the 12 Major League Baseball park that I’ve watched a game in. Thirteen if you count the old Kingdome where the Mariner’s played before they built Safeco Field, which is now called T-Mobile Park. Or, as I call it, based on T-Mobile’s corporate color, Pink Park.

Someday, before I die, I’d like to watch a game in every park. There are 30 MLB teams. And each one will be both a new experience and a familiar one. It doesn’t matter if the games are good or bad. In the end, they are baseball and that’s really all that matters.

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren.

Follow him on
Twitter (@rodneymbliss)
Facebook (www.facebook.com/rbliss)
LinkedIn (www.LinkedIn.com/in/rbliss)
or email him at rbliss at msn dot com

(c) 2019 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved

You’ve Never Met A Boring Person. . .Really!

You don’t believe me. Because I haven’t met the person you are thinking of right now. He was really boring. Seriously, the man could put a three year old on a sugar high into a stupor in minutes!

Here’s the thing. That person, that boring person? I can guarantee he has a favorite movie. He has a memorable vacation. He has a story of love lost. . .or won. He has a childhood story, or a brush with fame, or a near death experience.

That boring person has a life. And life is inherently interesting.

I have been told that my life is interesting. That may be true. I’ve been lost in a rain storm on the Arabian pennisula. I went to five different schools in the fifth grade. My father was a professional gambler. I’ve travelled to multiple countries adopting my children. I’ve also had family that struggled wiht mental illness. Abuse has been too much a part of my life.

At one point I thought everyone had experiences like mine. I didn’t view my life as all that unusual. Because I found other people just as interesting as they seemed to find my background. I just assumed I was a better storyteller.

It turns out my life may have had a few more ups and downs than the average bear. But, that doesn’t change the fact that I still find other people fascinating.

Not everyone is a natural storyteller. But, if you can be an active listener, if you can ask interesting questions, if you can get people to open up a little, you’ll find that everyone is interesting. Everyone has a story to tell. Many stories. You just have to be willing to ask them for it.

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren.

Follow him on
Twitter (@rodneymbliss)
Facebook (www.facebook.com/rbliss)
LinkedIn (www.LinkedIn.com/in/rbliss)
or email him at rbliss at msn dot com

(c) 2019 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved

The 2,500+ Mile Hike I’m Making Today

I got up this morning determined to go hiking. It’s an end-of-summer hike I’ve been planning with my kids for weeks. It’s thousands of miles. We’ll be back tomorrow.

This morning, I got at 5:00AM in Port St Lucie, Florida. I watched the sunrise over the Atlantic ocean. My hike is in the Wasatch Mountains of Utah.

Here’s the route:

1. 48.6 miles by car from Port St Lucie to West Palm Beach airport
2. 599.6 miles by Boeing 757 from PBI to Atlanta (648.2 cummulative)
3. 1,872.9 miles by Boeing 757 from Atlanta to SLC (2,521.1 cummulative)
4. 42.3 miles by car from SLC international airport to my house (2,563.4 cummulative)
5. 0.7 miles from my house to the Grove Creek Canyon trailhead (2,564.1)
6. 6.3 miles by foot from Grove Creek trailhead to Indian Springs. And we will be climbing 2,657 feet in elevation, about a half mile (2,570.7)
7. .7 miles from Indian Spring to The Meadow where we’ll camp (2571.4)
8. About 2.2 miles from The Meadow to the Curley Springs turn off (2,573.6)
8. 5 miles from the Curley Springs turn off to the Dry Canyon Trailhead , and a further drop of about 1,407 feet (2,578.6)
9. 4.7 miles by car from the Dry Canyon Trailhead back to my house (2,583.3 Total miles)

Considering my wakeup time was 3:00AM Mountain Time, I’m planning on sleeping very well tonight.

The weater is gorgeous and we might take some pictures for next week.

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren.

Follow him on
Twitter (@rodneymbliss)
Facebook (www.facebook.com/rbliss)
LinkedIn (www.LinkedIn.com/in/rbliss)
or email him at rbliss at msn dot com

(c) 2019 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved

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